The nine editorial staff at the Bozeman (Montana) Daily Chronicle petitioned the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday for an election to certify their union, the Yellowstone News Guild.
If they are successful, they will be the third newspaper owned by the Adams Publishing Group to organize with the NewsGuild, the largest union representing journalists. Workers at the Skagit Valley (Washington) Herald and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle are already represented by unions.
The filing comes after Daily Chronicle journalists sent Adams Publishing regional president Mark Dobie a letter requesting the company voluntarily recognize their union.
“Building a sustainable career in our newsroom is out of reach for many staffers. Many of us are in tenuous housing situations and despite our professional goals know the housing market combined with low pay could force us out of Bozeman,” the staff wrote. “Our pay and working conditions are simply not good enough. Unionizing will result in better conditions for us and, frankly, a better newspaper.”
The company refused, forcing the staff to seek an NLRB election. Adams Publishing did not respond to a request for comment.
The Daily Chronicle’s union drive follows recent controversies at three other Adams Publishing papers. Last month, all four members of the Klamath Falls (Oregon) Herald and News reporting staff quit. Meanwhile, The Athens (Ohio) News and The Athens Messenger have lost nearly all of their journalists to firings and resignations after an editor was fired for violating the company’s social media policies. She had previously criticized advertisements for collectible coins that had run in the papers.
Not much is known about Adams Publishing, which launched in March 2014 and owns more than 100 papers across 20 states. Members of the Adams family rarely talk to the media. In a 2017 profile of the family, Poynter’s Rick Edmonds reported that their net worth has been estimated to be at least a billion dollars.
In a tweet announcing their election petition, the Daily Chronicle journalists said they are preparing for “swift union busting.” They said Dobie announced Wednesday that Adams would hold meetings explaining its opposition to a union.
This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.